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Ladakh: Land of the Endless Discoveries

Jammu and KashmirThe land so barren and the passes so high, that only the worst of enemies or the best of friends would visit this land,’’says a famous Ladakhi expression that speaks volumes about this tourism hotspot, a barren beauty at its best.

Ladakh is a hill-station snuggled between the rugged ranges of Himalayas and Karakoram. It is located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Having earned the sobriquets like 'The Land of the Mystic Lamas', 'The Broken Moon land', or 'The Last Shangri-La', it has become one of the most popular travel destinations amongst the tourists.

Ladakh Tourism can be described by words like ‘Himalayan journey,’ ‘spiritual sightseeing,’ adventures like ‘river rafting, trekking, meditation, mountaineering, camel safari and archery.’ The place is also endowed with some magnificent lakes like Tsomoriri and Pangong Tso that adds to the beauty of the place.

The word 'Ladakh' literally means 'The Land of Passes' and one can find some really breath-taking mountain passes in this region like the Khardung La Pass. Archaeological findings reveal that the state was earlier inhabited by Changpa tribe members, the semi-nomadic tribes from Tibet. They were later joined by the North Indian Buddhists and the Indo- Aryan Dards.

Rightly called as the 'Land of the Endless Discoveries', missing Ladakh Travel can be justified by no excuse. Still looking for an excuse? Oh come on! A lifetime experience is waiting for you to unravel it, why wait?

Following are the main travel attractions of Ladakh:

Jammu and KashmirChoglamsar
This is basically a Tibetan refuge settlement famous for carpet weaving devoted handicraft centre and a children's village. The Central Institute of Buddhist Studies which trains the Buddhist monks is also located here.

Spituk Monastery
This is a very important monastery in this region as the major festival of Spituk is held here yearly. A colossal image of Mahakala along with the amazing collection of antiques is also displayed here. Interestingly, the face of the Mahakala is veiled and shown only during the Spituk festival.

Leh Palace
Built by King Sengge Namgyal during the 17th century, this palace was abandoned after the appropriation of Ladakh by the Dogra forces. The royal family living here then moved to the Stok Palace. The place in ruins is now being renovated by the Archaeological Survey of India. There are nine floors altogether. Leh Valley can be viewed from the roof of this palace.
The Palace Museum holds a rich collection of adornments, traditional dresses and crowns. Chinese soothe painting, which is more than 450-years-old, with intricate designs, retaining bright colours derived from finely crushed gems and stones, can also be seen here.

Thikse Monastery
It is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and exhibits the impressive stupas, swords, murals, sculpture and a pillar. This pillar is engraved with the principles and ideas of Buddha.
One of the major draw of this monastery is the Maitreya Temple which stands to commemorate the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to this monastery in 1970. The lamasery remains jam-packed at the time of the Thiksey Gustor, a two day long festival which is celebrated on a very grand scale.

Hemis Monastery
Hemis monastery or Hemis Gompa was built in the days of King Sengge Namgyal in 1630. Presently, this Gompa is looked after by Drukpa sect of Buddhism, which once thrived during the reign of Namgyal dynasty. The largest monastery in the region of Ladakh, it is basically divided into two parts-Tshongkhang and Dukhang.
Visitors can enjoy the beautiful wall paintings hanging in the corridor of this monastery. These paintings depict the ' Kalachakra ' and the 'Lords of the Four Quarters'. There is also an idol of Lord Buddha here which attracts lakhs of devotees across the globe.

Jammu and KashmirShey Gompa
Situated on the Shey hills, Shey Gompa or Shey Palace was the Summer Capital of Ladakh earlier. Now in ruins, this monastery was built in 1655 by King Deldan Namgyal. He constructed this monastery in the memory of his father, Sengge Namgyal. A large copper and golden statue of Lord Buddha sits inside the monastery. It is the second largest statue in Ladakh, which is looked after by the monks of Hemis monastery.

Dras Village
Also regarded as the “Gateway to Ladakh”, Dras is a small village near the Tiger Hill. The place serves as a convenient base while trekking to the adventurous Suru Valley. Dras also offers numerous shorter treks and hikes to the upland villages. It has become famous as the second coldest inhabited place in the world due to the intense cold and snowfall that falls upon the valley during winters.

Excursions from Ladakh
Jammu (342km) and Manali (490km) are some of the ideal getaways to explore near this destination in case you indulge in Ladakh Tourism.

Shopping in Ladakh
Shoppers can buy Pashmina and cashmere shawls, hand -woven woollens, blankets and rugs, Buddhist antiquities, silver jewellery, aqua and coral stones from here. Food connoisseurs must try the delectable Ladakhi food like sku, thukpa, pava and khambir.

When to Reach
The ideal time to take the trip is during the mod-May to September as the weather is cool and pleasant. Metukba Festival, Hemis Tsechu and Yuru Kabgyat are some of the popular festivals held mostly in July-August, also a prominent time for the globetrotters to plan the trip.

Jammu and KashmirHow to Reach
Air: The capital city Leh has an airport which is connected by flights to cities like Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu.
Rail: Jammu Tawi is the nearest railhead to the destination which is linked to all the major Indian cities and towns.
Road: Manali- Leh Road, 473km long is the most approachable route to reach the destination via road.

Ladakh Tour reveals that the arid lands are parched and the snowy passes are a challenge. But there is something magically unique about this tourist spot that makes it a must visit for every restless globetrotter. Not many places in the world give an impression of being God's favourite place, but Ladakh surely does. A trip to Ladakh can be a thrilling adventure, a spiritual Buddhist escape, a summer resort or just an excursion that surely will take a mention in your diary of dream destinations.

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